Parents would rather give their children doses of paracetamol to reduce a fever than use a more effective drug free method.
Researchers in Southampton found that warm sponging of feverish children reduces temperatures more quickly than does administering paracetamol, but most of the parents in the study were "not sure" about this form of treatment.
Most, however, were "very happy" about administering paracetamol, which was shown to have "no significant effect".
The study (BMJ, 7 November 1992) looked at 52 children aged between three months and five years with fever temperatures of between 37.8 and 40 degrees centigrade. The most effective method of treatment was warm sponging.
In this method, parents were advised to sit their child in a bath or bowl containing a few inches of warm water, the temperature of which should be just below that of the child.
They should wet their child all over for 10 to 20 minutes, or as long as the child is comfortable. Then the child should be "unwrapped" into light clothing in a warm room and encouraged to take frequent cool drinks.